Top 5 Steepest Trails at Crested Butte Mountain Resort

Posted on Jan. 20, 2023
If you have the guts and the experience, Crested Butte’s Extreme Limits terrain delivers the glory.

Welcome to the mountain where the conditions are right, terrain is challenging, and the stoke factor is high. Learn more about the trails that make Crested Butte the birthplace of inbounds extreme terrain and why our 2,700+ feet of vertical is not for the faint of heart, but for the strong in spirit. Read on to learn more about the five steepest runs at CBMR, and tips on how to best ski them.

Disclaimers: These are the steepest trails marked on the official mountain map. Technically, there are steeper lines on the mountain, but these five are the top official resort-recommended routes.

Give these no-fall lines the respect they deserve. Do not attempt to ski these runs if you cannot execute a jump turn, straight-line when needed or if you’re uncomfortable with mandatory airs and blind cliffs.
Skier making turns down Funnel with mountain background

Skier making turns down Funnel

1. Staircase

Loaded with plenty of trees, cliffs and rocks, Staircase is a commonly used venue for Crested Butte’s famous freeride competitions. Find this technical entrance skier’s left of Phoenix Bowl and get there via Spellbound or Million Dollar Highway. Be on your game. If you get stuck in a funny spot, you’ll need to be able to jump-turn. When you get into the main gut, there are some pillows that look like stairs, transitioning into a fun mogul field at the bottom. Pick your way down and catch air on any footers that call to you.

2. Phoenix Chutes

Access Phoenix Bowl from Spellbound going right or Million Dollar Highway and traversing all the way out. The steep gnarly stuff is on skier’s left. To ski chutes, stay on the traverse and eventually you’ll hit the gate and drop in. It starts out mellow with rolling pillows, and then the chutes split: tree chute on the left, rock chute on the right. These speedy gems hold snow really well, so dig in and enjoy the flow.

3. Rambo

Crested Butte is full of extremes to hang your bragging rights on, and Rambo is the iconic steep, fast and bumpy unicorn. Often referred to as the steepest lift-serviced tree-cut run in the U.S., Rambo gets a lot of hype with its continuous fall line and sheer drop. Ski Powder Rock Glade or Hawks Nest to a cat track to get there. You can side-step the first 15 boney feet if you’re not comfortable with hopping around prominent rocks. After the initial drop, follow the natural moguls and look for the flow of the trees. The right side tends to be a little easier, left is steeper.

4. Headwall

A Crested Butte classic, this playful zone is a local freeride favorite, littered with nicknamed features like Box Rock and Rabbit Ears. Hit Headwall from High Lift and take the easier entrance via Halfpipe Gully, then traverse into the main bowl. Perched high on the mountain where loads of soft snow blows in, powder stashes temp from all directions. Ski Headwall Glades on skier’s left for steep trees and chutes or head to the lesser-traveled skier’s right. Be prepared for a steep rollover where you can’t see what you’re about to ski and be ready to rip—these lines are fast and unforgiving. Read: No-fall zones abound.

5. Banana/Funnel

Banana and Funnel are exactly what they sound like—narrow, long leg-burners. Pole planting and jumping moguls are key in these sister chutes. The entrance to Funnel can get a little spicy and technical with rocks and jump turns, but once you’re in the chutes, you’re greeted with beautiful views looking straight down over town. Hit these chutes in the afternoon when the sun has softened them up and poke around in the trees, savoring the 2,200 vertical feet.

Our Team's Top Tips for Tackling the Steeps:

  •  Be ready for rocks, cliffs, ridges, hidden obstacles.
  • Know how to self-arrest if you fall. Knowing how to fall is important in steep, gnarly zones like these.
  • Crested Butte is really rocky; even on a good snow year, they never go away.
  • Be comfortable with variable terrain: snow that can go from very deep to wind-packed in seconds.
  • Be okay with filling in core shots in your skis at the end of the day.
  • Don’t forget your fundamentals—stay in the front of your boot, be dynamic in turns and use strong pole planting.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and don’t go somewhere until you’ve seen it from the bottom.
  • A steeps lesson or guided tour is a good idea. You can book a lesson online.